Other Free Encyclopedias » Law Library - American Law and Legal Information » Great American Court Cases » Search and Seizure - Fourth Amendment Protections, Search And Seizure Before The 1960s, The Exclusionary Rule And Other Holdings Of The Warren Court

Search and Seizure - The Exclusionary Rule And Other Holdings Of The Warren Court

amendment fourth arrest stop

The Fourth Amendment first came to prominence in an era of high regard for property rights, when a largely conservative Court in the late 1800s and early 1900s tended to rule in favor of business interests. Concerns over search and seizure entered a second phase during the 1960s, and this time the issue's champions were much further to the left politically. Perhaps the most important Fourth Amendment ruling of that decade came in 1961, with Mapp v. Ohio, in which the Court overturned its earlier holding in Wolf, and applied the exclusionary rule to state governments as well as to the federal government. To do otherwise, the Court ruled, would be to render the Fourth Amendment "`a form of words,' valueless and undeserving of mention in a perpetual charter of inestimable human liberties."

In Wong Sun v. United States (1963), the Court addressed the issue of a warrantless search and seizure. The Court held that when an officer apprehends a criminal in the middle of committing a crime, there are certain types of search and seizure that may be permissible. Nonetheless, with its holding in Wong Sun, the Court made it clear that "the requirements of reliability and particularity of the information on which an officer may act... surely cannot be less stringent [in cases of warrantless arrest] than where an arrest warrant is obtained. Otherwise, a principal incentive now existing for the procurement of arrest warrants would be destroyed." In other words, a law officer would be tempted to violate Fourth Amendment requirements in order to obtain evidence, and then claim that no warrant was required.

Decisions such as that in Wong Sun tended to suggest, in the wake of Mapp, a tightening of possible government loopholes for violation of Fourth Amendment rights. In Aguilar v. Texas (1964), the Court established stricter standards with regard to the use of information provided to police by informants, and in Katz v. United States (1967), it ruled that electronic eavesdropping by means of a recording device on the outside of a telephone booth constituted illegal search and seizure.

With Katz, once again Fourth Amendment issues seemed to be merging with Fifth Amendment concerns regarding self-incrimination. Yet even as Fourth Amendment protections were increasing on some fronts, they were decreasing on others. Terry v. Ohio (1968), nicknamed the Stop and Frisk Case, provided for situations in which police could stop and frisk a suspect on the street, a measure which the Court deemed a positive alternative to arrest as a means of short-term detention. Some rulings seemed like plain common sense: thus in Camara v. Municipal Court (1967), the Court allowed safety inspections of dwellings even when there was no evidence of existing building code violations. But with such 1970s cases as United States v. Robinson (1973), authorizing search of anyone under lawful custodial arrest, and Delaware v. Prouse (1979), which permitted law officers to stop vehicles to check license and registration even without evidence of any violation, the Court signalled a growing trend toward favoring police interests in Fourth-Amendment cases.

Search and Seizure - Search And Seizure Vs. Law And Order: The 1980s And 1990s [next] [back] Search and Seizure - Search And Seizure Before The 1960s

User Comments

Your email address will be altered so spam harvesting bots can't read it easily.
Hide my email completely instead?

Cancel or